Barty advances to set up clash of French champs

Tennis

MADRID — Ashleigh Barty and Iga Swiatek, the two most recent champions of the French Open, will meet in the last 16 of the Madrid Open.

They won their second-round matches on Saturday to set up the first-time meeting.

The top-ranked Barty needed three sets to beat 80th-ranked Tamara Zidansek. Barty struggled with her first serves, but she compensated by striking nine aces and saved nine break points to outlast Zidansek 6-4, 1-6, 6-3. That took her win streak on clay to 13 matches after claiming the Stuttgart title last week.

“A really tough match,” Barty said. “(I) made a lot of errors. I think I was missing in the right way, but still just a foot or two here or there makes a big difference. I felt like there were probably too many loose ones for me today.”

Swiatek brushed aside Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-3 for the Pole’s ninth win in a row on clay.

“(It’s) a match that I look forward to,” Barty said about Monday’s meeting with Swiatek. “I’ve hit with her once in Melbourne a few months ago. She’s got a seriously impressive game. It’s a challenge that we go into with a really clean slate, a little bit of a period of trying to figure each other out and how our games match up.”

Barty won the French Open in 2019, and Swiatek last year in Barty’s absence.

Petra Kvitova also advanced after she beat Angelique Kerber in another battle of Grand Slam winners.

Kvitova, a three-time champion in Madrid, broke Kerber’s serve four times in a 6-4, 7-5 victory.

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